A state legislator who publicly called into question whether it was truly supporters of the president who stormed the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 now acknowledges that most of the people who have been arrested for the crime were in fact supporters of Donald Trump.
“I was surprised and disappointed,” state Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park, said during a Jan. 15 interview with Colorado Community Media. “But it turns out most of the people who have been arrested (were) supporters of Trump.”
Baisley’s original statements, posted to Facebook the day of the insurrection, asserted that the actions seen at the Capitol appeared to match those of the far-left, anti-fascist movement Antifa, rather than “Trump patriots.” This theory, for which no credible evidence has been presented, took hold with many Trump supporters in the days following the insurrection.
“It does not make any sense to me that Trump patriots would storm the U.S. Capitol to interrupt a congressional challenge to the electoral college results,” Baisley wrote at the time. “I hope that many arrests are made and identities of the sponsors revealed.”
Baisley represents House District 39, which encompasses Teller County and much of unincorporated Douglas County, including part of Highlands Ranch.
Shortly after he posted the statement, a screenshot of it was shared by a 9News reporter and an outpouring of critical comments followed, with several people voicing interest in a recall attempt.
Darien Wilson, former Democratic candidate for commissioner in Douglas County, was one of the people to respond to Baisley’s comments, calling him a “conspiracy theorist.”
“I would like to see our elected officials remain neutral until there is evidence one way or the other,” said Wilson, who is also one of Baisley’s constituents, in an interview with Colorado Community Media. “I do appreciate Baisley’s backing-off, somewhat, of his initial statement.”
The FBI and the minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Kevin McCarthy, have both released statements saying there has not been any evidence that those who stormed the Capitol were anything other than Trump supporters.
“Some say the riots were caused by Antifa — there is absolutely no evidence of that,” McCarthy said in a Jan. 13 hearing in the House. “And conservatives should be the first to say so.”
Baisley told Colorado Community Media he had not previously been aware of these statements.
“It still doesn’t make sense to me, but evidently the facts are showing that that was the case,” he said.
Baisley went on to say he still believes there could be evidence of non-Trump supporters at the insurrection.
Baisley, who was elected in 2018 to represent the district, said he was surprised that his “benign observation” received so much attention.
“Why is it important what I believe?” he said.
In a follow-up post on Facebook Jan. 9, Baisley characterized his comments on the insurrection as “an open quandary rather than an assertion.” He went on to double-down on the claims that Antifa could be involved.
Both posts received hundreds of comments and interactions, many of which showed support and agreement with the idea.
Baisley said it’s likely that a lot of folks who already may have believed in this idea “took my comment as a validation.”
“But I don’t hate them for that,” he said. “Why would anybody hate someone for jumping to a reasonable conclusion?”
Baisley said he doesn’t believe that his comments contributed to the larger conspiracy theory that took hold in the country that there were bad actors dressed up as Trump supporters in the crowd that day.
“I gave my reaction, I did not advance an idea, I asserted no specific allegations,” he said.
He went on to say that the spread of misinformation can be dangerous, especially in the case of people believing that the recent election was rigged.
“If what people believe are simply conspiracy theories that don’t cause some real significant reaction, like insurrection, then so what?” he said. “But if they incite violence, incite people to go storm the Capitol, then obviously it does matter a lot.”
However, he said he doesn’t see how believing that Antifa followers were perpetrators at the Capitol insurrection could have a negative impact.
“I don’t think it’s dangerous that people would believe that Antifa … I don’t see that there’s any danger in people believing any theory about who it was that attacked the Capitol,” he said.
He said he was considering adding a new post clarifying these latest thoughts.
“I stand by what I said then, but I guess it probably would make sense. It probably is time for an update to that,” he said. “Now that I’ve got the perspective of nine or 10 days.”